Review: Atlas of Design Volume 6

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Review: Atlas of Design Volume 6

Reviewed by: Dr. Lucia Lovison-Golob

Case, Nat, Koelker, Aaron, Ryan, Josh, and Tien, Tracy, editors. Atlas of Design. Volume 6. Golden Valley, MN: North American Cartographic Information Society. 2022. 98 p. $35.00. ISBN: 978-8-9866856-6-3.

I enjoyed reading the book, Atlas of Design, Volume 6, and viewing the selected maps in the book. The initial pages contain a description of NACIS and a note from the editors, thanking all those who contributed to the book. The atlas begins with an amazing discussion of time by Eleanor Lutz. She illustrates time effectively in a map, but she does not explain the criterion that she adopted in making the map. 

I liked the straightforward, well executed maps, including “Carte de Mon Monde Confine/Map of My Confined World” by Arthur Beaubois-Jude; “Setting Rivers Free” by Heather Gabriel Smith and Christina Shintani, National Geographic; “Alex McPhee’s Province of Alberta” by Alex McPhee, Prairie Heart Maps; “Kjempsavor Ayars” by David Nuttail, Artimaps; “The Bellarine Map” by Melinda Clark, Deborah Young-Monk, and Sean Rodwell, City Maps Illustrated Pty. Ltd.; and “L’itoi’s Place: A Landform Portrait” by Zoe Edgecomb.

The” Slivers of an Ancient Forest” by Jake Steinberg is phenomenal for the topic that the author chose and for the way that the author illustrated it. The Northwoods are as fundamental to the cultural identity of an Upper Midwest person as the lakes and mosquitoes. The only aspect of the map that I would challenge is the lack of a definition for “ancient.”  Does this forest date back three hundred years or much earlier? I thought that the selection of “vibrant color hues to capture the eye and to invite the viewer to see the Northwoods in a new way” was nicely done.

I enjoyed “Three Views of the Cascades Volcanoes” by Leif Karlstrom and Daniel O’Hara. I thought that the criterion was very innovative and that the information on the apparatus of the volcanoes was excellent. However, I do not think that the erosion was illustrated and commented properly.  The framing of the design with the seismic activity of Mount St. Helens volcano on May 18, 1980, was very nice and telling.

I also liked the thematic map “Algonquin Park Canoe Trip” by Warren Davison. This map was undertaken by Davison by remembering a trip that he took in 2021 with a party of six friends spending three days in the Canadian wilderness. It made me nostalgic and encouraged me to emulate him and discover a part of Canada that I did not know.

Similarly, the map of “Colorado Trail” by Madeleine Grubb is much more illustrative than a “digitally accurate” map. I liked the contrast created by the colors chosen.  I looked for the scale and other features, such as the north setting, but perhaps they were on the original map. The Continental Divide that separates the North American continent into eastern (Atlantic) and western (Pacific) watersheds are only present in part, but it was “artistic license.”

“Takamatsu Public Transportation Map” by Jug Cerovic in March 2021 is interesting, presenting a simplified network with five rail lines that radiate from downtown terminals toward the countryside.  The station names are in both Japanese and English.

This map reminded me of the map titled “The Names and Places of the Triple Alliance” by Carl Churchill. This map contains historical, mythical, and physical features of Central America, with information on the Spanish colonial officials, and the Indigenous scribes, but it is not representative of a single period of time. The author did not define the Triple Alliance, but in Mesoamerica at the time of the Aztec empire, the Triple Alliance was a pact among the cities of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. This map acknowledges that the Native Americans settled in the region of Mesoamerica and the mythical Aztlan area before the arrival of the Europeans. As a human being, how far back do we want to go in order to find “the right descendant” of a land? 5,000 years? 22,000 years or 26,000 years? Do we want to also consider the disappearance or extinction of the megafauna due to the human beings in this continent (like the saber tooth lion, the camel in California, the mastodonts, the horses, and many other animals?)? Also, this map reports many locations, but not the holy city of Chichen Itza location where people found possible traces of Viking sacrifices. I cannot find balance between accurate information “…and visual playfulness, in order to keep the history as correct as I could…”

The “Railway Map of Greater London” by Mike Hall in November 2021 is a detailed and accurate map of the rail-based transit network and the major roads, waterways, airports, and airstrips, similarly to the maps that the author drew in Portugal and Spain. He designed a beautiful map, balancing form, color, and type with impressive composition.

I liked the “Thirty Years of Tension and Conflict…The Shock Waves of the Fall of the USSR” by Xemartin Laborde, Lucie Rubrice, and Delphine Papin from Le Monde. While the USSR was dismantled 30 years ago, Russia remained. The map makes clear the extent of Russia and the shrinking effect of the Arctic Pole (claimed by Russia on the 2 August, 2007), and the “annexation” of parts of Ukraine by Russia.

Another important map is the “Murky Waters: Unmapped Areas of Seafloor” by Andrew Douglass-Clifford and the Seabed 2030 Project ( The author includes an innovative discussion about crowdsourcing, but, especially in the unmapped areas of seafloor, he does not seem to know about the work -incomplete but very important to consider – of H. William Menard.

“The Panoramic Map of the Alps” by Eric Knight is refreshing for me. This panoramic map is not a thematic map, describing climate change. The map has been built “from modern data sources, its details have been curated, stylized . . . to evoke the sensibilities of an earlier time . . . Making a complex mountain landscape appear familiar and harmonious is not a simple task . . . gradients of color, value and contrast help create an illusion of scale.”

The “Hospital Corridor Smellscape” by Kate McLean took olfactory data from 27 former hospital patients in February 2020.  The author does a virtual map that is posted online and is referred to the book. I was wondering what happens to the virtual map for those patients if the smell goes away for certain COVID patients.

The next map is “Le Pertuis d’Antioche” by Marine Le Breton. The map is an artistic work that deserves to be shared – It is not simply a nautical chart with bathymetry. I appreciated that, in small letters, the map indicates the scale (1/50000) because it would be almost impossible to find a way on land if you are on a boat at “Le Pertuis d’Antioche.” 

Another artistic map is “The Presidential Range” in New Hampshire White Mountains by Andy Woodruff. This map deserves to be shared.  I did it with my son Theodore who immediately recognized the location. I found the hachures nice and alluring.

I liked the “Wetlands in Parana’ River Basin, Central Littoral Region” by Orlando Roberto Oldani. It is one map out of seven maps of the area. The map displayed the wetlands beautifully thanks to satellite images and orthophotos. 

Similarly, the map titled “Landforms of Michigan” by Daniel P. Kaufman is majestic, but I could not find the scale. Four images and an accompanying text did not indicate scale.

A map of “Australia” by Alex Hochin is remarkable. The author could not travel in early 2020 due to the COVID, so he decided to create a map of Australia, with national parks and all geographic features and used the green watercolor to distinguish this from the interior, increasingly red and vibrant, surrounded by the pale blue sea.

I was impressed with the thematic map titled “Screwed: 2020 Presidential Election” by Kenneth Field. The map has a communality related to the depth, height, diameters, and color of the red (Republican) and blue (Democratic) screws. The author wanted to create a “cARTographic” map, but the end-product has a serendipitous design.

“The Atlanta Rap Map” by Joseph Veazey is impressive. Based on the map, I conclude that approximately eight male artists and fewer female artists constitute what is happening in rap in Atlanta. The author chose each artist for “genre, influence, popularity, and reach.”

“The Kansas City Map of Outdoor Pursuits” by Jeremy Collins does not have a scale, but the map’s goal was very noble and useful in pandemic times for the outdoors communities. The main influence stylistically was the Lewis and Clark journals. During their expedition on the Missouri River, they camped on the riverbanks of Kansas City for three days.  These explorers became an inspiration for the author.

A cartographic representation of the census data from the United States from 2010 to 2020 was created by Adrian Blanco Ramos and Tim Meko from The Washington Post. They used the base map to show the demographic changes, with bold, bright colors to draw the readers’ attention.  

In the maps of “Le Hajj, Voyage d’une vie” by Jean-Louis Rheault and “Arlys” by MistyBeee, the design is artistic and somewhat “Art Nouveau.”  The names are fantastic and refer to mythical stories, such as Atlantis and Paradis.

Le Hajj is the name of the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina that Islam requires every Muslim to undertake once in their lifetime. The illustration of the 13 steps of the Hajj are prominently featured in a map border.  

At the end of the book, there is a map, “Hillside, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,” by Cam Ojeda. This map, in a gray color, represents a tribute to the author’s uncle who grew up in Hillside. What Cam Ojeda says is true for most of us, we all loved geography and history. With this map, he wanted to elicit memories from his uncle. 

The purpose of the Atlas of Design, Volume 6, by NACIS was to show us the range of maps created by some of the best designers in the world. Among the magnificent designs included, I would have liked to see some incorporation of social media. I would recommend that every mapmaker purchases a copy of this inspirational Atlas of Design because the different designers have shown innovative approaches to old problems in geography, for example, in “Murky Waters: Unmapped Areas of Seafloor” by Andrew Douglass-Clifford. I also believe that libraries should include this Atlas of Design in their collection.

Dr. Lucia Lovison-Golob

Boston, MA, USA

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